Let’s talk about “The Dream.” We may have different ideas about what it is, but we have one thing in common: we want to be living it.
For a growing number of people, living the dream means travelling the world while supporting themselves with temporary or location-independent work. You can picture the lifestyle now: no 9-5 schedule, no cubicle, no commute, no co-workers stealing your snacks from the company kitchen. Instead your office is a world’s worth of coffee shops, co-working spaces, resorts, retreats, hotels, hostels, planes, trains, beaches, and Airbnbs.
The internet has revolutionised the way we work and play, making it more possible than ever before to make money while travelling. There are also a number of opportunities for less tech-savvy travellers to earn extra cash while roaming the globe.
Here are 13 of the best ways to combine work and wanderlust. The Dream is not as distant as you think.
Freelancing can be an incredible way to make a living on your own terms. More and more people are leaving traditional payroll employment behind in favour of the ‘gig economy’ that lets them make their own rules, set their own hours, and focus on the work that’s most meaningful to them.
To choose your freelancing field, consider your background and skill set. What can you already do well? Some traditional freelancing options include writing, programming, web design, graphic design, photography, translation, and marketing, but in our increasingly remote age, feel free to get creative. If your service is useful and you’re good at it, and you can market it well, you’ll find clients.
SELL A PRODUCT
Offering a service isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. If you’re looking to create income without an hourly rate, try making and selling a product instead. Your product can be informational – like an ebook or an online course – or physical. Start an Etsy store if you’re especially crafty and unique, or sell your goods on Amazon’s Etsy competitor, Handmade at Amazon. Use CafePress to design and sell merchandise in a variety of categories. Try Society6 or Threadless if you’re an artist.
Selling through an established marketplace is the simplest path to getting started, but it’s not the only option. Services like Shopify and BigCommerce help entrepreneurs launch their own online stores. If you’re an especially big thinker, you may want to try launching a product on Kickstarter or another crowdfunding platform. Just don’t forget to consider how you’ll create and ship your product while you’re on the road.
Teaching English, or any other language you speak, is one of the easiest ways to earn cash abroad. Language skills are in high demand and teaching jobs are abundant – some of them even pay well. You can offer your services as an independent teacher to any client who’s interested. If you’re looking for a formal position, however, it may not be enough to be a native speaker. Many established programs or schools require a university degree and a TEFL/TESOL certification.
WORK AS A BARTENDER OR SERVER
Restaurants, bars, and nightclubs exist worldwide, and the job description is pretty much the same everywhere. As long as you meet the basic language requirements, the food/beverage service industry is an excellent choice for vagabonds. Positions are plentiful and it’s not uncommon for employment to be for short periods. It will be easier to find work in touristy areas where customer traffic and employee turnover are both high, and the local establishments are more familiar with hiring travellers.
LEND A HOSTEL A HELPING HAND
Hostels are often on the hunt for staff to man the front desk, serve food, clean rooms, or show guests around. You may be able to trade work hours for a free bed and meals. It’s not glamorous, and it’s not exactly earning money, but it’s still a useful way to save up while you’re wandering the world. Some hostels even offer paid positions to working guests who intend to stay longer term.
GET SEASONAL WORK
Thirsting for adventure? Try scoring a seasonal position somewhere that gets your blood pumping. Anywhere that has a big tourist season will also have a big demand for temporary labour – think ski resorts, national parks, festivals, yachts, ranches, and retreat centres. Search CoolWorks.com to find available gigs.
START A BLOG
It seems like everyone who dreams of funding full-time vagabonding has tried to launch a blog. Many fail (ok, most fail), but some pull in a decent monthly income and a lucky few go way beyond ‘decent’. The blogger life is not as flashy as it looks – it takes a lot of hard work to launch and maintain a successful site – but if you’re willing to put in the hours, you could add ‘travel writer’ to your resume.
Not into the written word? No problem. In the 21st century, your travelogue could take the form of a vlog on YouTube or a podcast instead. Whichever medium you choose, your income will generally come from things like advertising, affiliate sales, and influencer marketing deals. You may also score the occasional free swag from companies hoping to get their product featured.
BECOME A PHOTOGRAPHER
One option is to offer your camera skills as a freelancer. You could become a destination wedding photographer or a photojournalist in the travel and adventure space. Another option is to sell your images to stock photography sites like iStock and Shutterstock. You could also lead guided photography tours if you’re a people person, or sell online tutorials to earn passive income.
By now you’re well-versed in ‘sharing economy’ services like Airbnb and Uber. A new crop of startups are applying the same it’s-cool-to-trust-strangers-now philosophy to package delivery. Peer-to-peer services like WorldCraze, Roadie, and Grabr let trusted travellers sign up to be couriers for other users. You get paid to deliver packages along your route or bring foreign items home; they get what they need shipped faster or cheaper than a company could do.
You have to be well-versed in your destination (or at least willing to learn), but if you’re knowledgable and enjoy interacting with people, becoming a tour guide is an excellent way to make money while travelling. You get to know somewhere you love inside and out, deeply immersing yourself in the setting and culture, while funding your current adventure and the next. Being a tour guide can offer a lot of variety and opportunities to set your own schedule, though it can also come with uneven paydays and little job security. Be prepared to be friendly and flexible at all times if you want to make it work.
IMPORT AND EXPORT GOODS
Think of it as modern-day treasure hunting. If you have an eye for interesting items, getting into the import-export trade can be a lucrative way to earn money on the road. As you trek across the globe, keep an eye out for local, specialty, and handmade goods that will appeal to consumers back home. Pick up goods your destination is known for – the kind of rare or one-of-a-kind things that can’t be ordered on Amazon – and bring them home to sell to stores, eager collectors, and eBay buyers.
Getting into the business requires some initial capital, and you’ll need to learn how to navigate customs regulations, but the hassle pays for itself when you’re selling goods for multiple times their original worth.
TEACH A SKILL
Are you a yoga teacher? Can you play guitar? Are you an exceptional cook, a martial artist, or a salsa dancer? Any mobile skill you have can be taught on the road just by advertising your services in your destination. Alternatively, you may be able to make deals with local establishments to use their facilities or appear as a guest instructor.
WORK ON A CRUISE SHIP
Working on a cruise ship is a double whammy: not only do you make money from your employment, you also save money because food, accommodation, transportation, and utilities are built in. You’ll have to put in long hours, but there are lots of different types of positions available and cruise ship employees have a reputation for taking “work hard, play hard” very seriously. You might even have more fun than the guests.